Sault Ste. Marie, ON, July 18, 2018 – One year after Steve Van Vlaenderen realized his dream of owning a sailboat, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. If that news wasn’t enough, doctors also recommended he give up sailing.
That was seven years ago. The Winnipegger didn’t listen to his doctors, and he certainly didn’t give up on his dream. On June 18, the 68-year-old yachtsman heads out on the first leg on a trip through the Great Lakes to raise awareness about Parkinson’s.
“I’m hoping that Sail on with Parkinson’s and our adventure will encourage people to look at what Parkinson’s is – because it isn’t one thing — it’s multiple conditions at the same time,” Van Vlaenderen said. “Parkinson’s is like an iceberg; 10 percent is above the surface that people can see, like the tremors, and 90 percent is below the water level.”
Joining Van Vlaenderen on the cruise is his partner Darlene Hildebrand, 65. Launching from Barker’s Marina in Superior, Wisconsin, the couple will sail Lakes Superior and Lake Huron this summer. The trip will take about 75 days, and they’ll cover approximately 1,450 kilometres (900 miles). They’ll then dry-dock the boat at Bridgeview Marina in Sarnia, Ontario, and continue the journey in 2019 through Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
On their voyage, they’ll encounter unfamiliar waters, long distances, and nasty weather. Van Vlaenderen and Hildebrand are ready. They’re used to challenges in their life.
“It’s a terrific adventure. Very few people do something like this; even if they are completely healthy and much younger. So for us to do this at our age, and with Steve’s condition, it’s exciting.” Hildebrand said. “What we’re trying to do is give people hope.”
CONTACT: Steve Van Vlaenderen Phone number: (204) 471-3393.
Phone number aboard boat: (204) 471-3393 Email address:[email protected]
• Parkinson Canada cooperates with a vast range of international, provincial or locally based organizations, whenever it advances the cause of the Parkinson’s community. • Parkinson Canada is a member of the Best Medicines Coalition, Carers Canada, Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness, Health Charities Coalition of Canada and the World Parkinson Coalition.